Sermon for 02.05.23 “The light of the cross”

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:1–16
Theme: The light of the cross
Other lessons: Isaiah 58:3–9a; Psalm 112:1–9; Matthew 5:13–20

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 578:1,4 Thy Strong Word
Thy strong word did cleave the darkness;
At Thy speaking it was done.
For created light we thank Thee,
While Thine ordered seasons run.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise to Thee who light dost send!
Alleluia, alleluia!
Alleluia without end! Amen.


A. “From the cross Thy wisdom shining Breaketh forth in conqu’ring might;
From the cross forever beameth All Thy bright redeeming light” (LSB 578:4).
B. Did you catch that?
1. The cross is described as shining, breaking forth, beaming, and bright.
2. That seems a bit odd, does not it?
C. When you hear “Good Friday”, what comes to mind?

1. Darkness?
2. Gloom?
3. Sadness?
D. But the hymn of the day for today says:

1. “No! The cross is bright!
2. The cross enlightens our darkness!
3. The cross is our great epiphany—that we will not be condemned!
4. For Christ was crucified for you!
5. The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
6. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
7. The cross is the central truth of our faith that enlightens the human
8. The Light of the Cross Reveals All Matters of Faith and Life!
I. St. Paul says, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ
and him crucified” (verse 2).
A. This is not to say that he avoided other topics.
1. In 1 Corinthians, Paul discusses many issues:
A. marriage and divorce,
B. the Lord’s Supper and its right practice,
C. lawsuits and conflicts among parishioners,
D. the hope of the resurrection,
E. spiritual gifts
F. and the higher gift of love.
2. To speak “only of Christ crucified” does not mean he avoided other
important issues.
3. Rather, it means that every issue is revealed by the cross.
A. We decide to know nothing but the cross because the cross enlightens
B. Name a topic, and you will see how the cross speaks to it.
1. Sin?
A. The cross shows us the depth of our sin.
B. “Ye who think of sin but lightly Nor suppose the evil great Here may
view its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate” (LSB 451:3 Stricken,
Smitten, and Afflicted).
C. Our sin is so great it took the blood of Jesus to cleanse us.
2. What else? How about God’s personality? Does the cross show that?
A. Yes, the cross reveals that God is gracious and merciful, for if God did
1. Romans 8:32 “spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he
not also with him graciously give us all things?”.
B. If God willingly gave up his own Son for our forgiveness, he must really
like forgiving.
C. Yes, the cross proves there is joy in heaven when even one sinner
C. And each of these epiphanies leads to yet another.
1. If we are forgiven in Christ through His blood shed on the cross, then
we have been reconciled to the Father.
2. And if we have been reconciled to God, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. And if we have peace with God because of Christ, we are in direct
opposition to the devil, and the devil no longer has any claim on us.
4. We belong to God!
5. And if we belong to him, we are his heirs, and all things are ours.
6. For how will he not also graciously give us all things?
7. And if we have all things, we must have the resurrection of the body.
8. For if he loved us enough to take on our flesh and to die in that flesh
and to rise in that flesh, then certainly he will also save our flesh when
he comes again in glory!
9. Yes, Christ will raise us up on the Last Day.
10. Transition: You see, the cross is the key to all wisdom, and once you
have it, the Gospel reveals one truth on top of another.
II. So the cross teaches us the Gospel, but it also teaches us about the
Law—that is, it teaches us how to live—and it changes our opinion about the
A. Those who don’t understand the cross view the Law as an enemy–>that the
Law is bad.
1. For them, the Law is a constant reminder that they do not measure up.
A. Therefore, they hate it.
2. And even among Christians, our sinful flesh still kicks and screams and
puts up a fight when the Law is taught.
B. But the new man—standing in the light of the cross—thinks much
1. He delights in the Law because he sees that the Law is cross-shaped.
A. It is about denying ourselves
1. like Jesus did for us
B. It is about taking up our own cross
1. like Jesus did for us
C. and then it is about following him.
D. It is truly all about love
1. we love only because he first loved us!
E. The Law then becomes beautiful because for us it pictures our Jesus.
2. We could also apply this change of perspective to individual
commandments. For instance, the cross makes us think differently about the
Sixth Commandment (on sexual issues).
A. The world thinks the Sixth Commandment is burdensome, but we see the
great freedom and delight.
1. St. Paul tells us that in this commandment we see a picture of Christ
and the Church—a picture of how Christ, the Groom, loved his Bride by
laying down his life for her.
B. Therefore, to love your wife is to imitate Jesus, who gave himself up
for his wife.
1. And viewing it this way, the commandment is not a burden but a great
2. It’s an amazing opportunity to follow Jesus and show your spouse the
love of our Savior.
C. Indeed, every commandment becomes an opportunity to reflect the love of
Christ to others.
1. As Christ says in our Gospel lesson for today:
A. Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see
your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.
2. We delight in every commandment because in the fulfillment of each we
see the love of Christ crucified.
3. So yes, the cross reveals everything.
A. When Paul says he decided to know nothing but the cross, he was not
limiting himself to one topic.
B. He was opening every topic and allowing the true Light to enlighten all
C. But perhaps,
III. While the light of the cross speaks to every issue, it especially
speaks to suffering.
A. When we suffer, we often cry out, “Why, Lord?”
B. That question is nearly impossible to answer, but in the cross, we start
to unravel the mystery.
1. This is not to say that the cross gives a specific or satisfying answer
to every situation.
A. Sometimes God hides knowledge from us.
2. The cross does eliminate some wrong answers and begins to offer
A. First, the cross eliminates the wrong answers like the idea that your
suffering happened because God is cruel or because God is callous and
doesn’t care.
1. Those answers cannot be true.
2. For if he did not spare his own Son, he certainly loves you, and he
clearly has your best interests in mind.
3. So, the cross takes away a lot of the bad answers.
B. Second, the cross offers possible alternatives.
1. Perhaps God is using this event to strengthen your faith or to teach you
to pray.
2. Perhaps he’s conforming you into the image of his Son; he’s making you
more like Christ.
3. Perhaps he’s taking away an idol that was ruining your life.
4. Perhaps he’s simply making you long for the next life, for the new world
that is to come, when he will wipe away every tear from your eyes.
C. We cannot answer all such questions specifically, but we can be
confident that whatever the answer is, it is rooted in his love for you.
C. Think about it: had you been there at the cross on Good Friday, it would
have seemed horrible and meaningless.
1. You might have asked:
A. “How can a good God allow this to happen?”
B. The enemy seemed victorious.
2. However, St. Peter proclaims that it was all:
A. Acts 2:23 “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”.
B. God knew what evil would try to do, and God used evil’s intentions to
accomplish his own plans.
C. They intended it for evil, but God meant it for good.
D. Likewise, God foreknew your suffering, and though the devil intends to
use suffering to drive a wedge between you and God, God will work all
things—even your suffering—for your good.
1. The cross reveals this!
A. It reveals God’s character—his love—and how he works all things, even
evil things, for our good.
2. Indeed, the cross reveals all things.
A. The cross reveals our sin and God’s grace.
B. The cross gives us a joyous delight in the Gospel, and it can even make
us delight in the Law!

A. I’ve always enjoyed riddles and puzzles.
1. However, some can be frustrating.
2. At times, a puzzle can stump you, and you think:
A. “If only I knew one more piece of information, perhaps everything else
would fall into place.”
3. For example: consider a Sudoku puzzle.
A. “If only I knew one more number in a particular box, perhaps I could get
all the rest of the numbers.”
B. Oftentimes, I’ll get impatient and simply guess which can be disastrous,
or worse yet, look at the answer key!
B. Well, the key to understanding all the riddles of faith and life is the
1. The cross of Christ enlightens our darkness.
2. The message of the cross sheds light on all the important questions:
A. What is God like?
B. How bad is sin?
C. Can I ever be good in God’s eyes?
D. Does suffering have meaning?
E. What does a righteous life look like?
F. What is marriage?
G. What is fatherhood?
H. What are God’s higher gifts?
I. What is love?
3. The list could go on and on.
A. Every significant question of faith and life is revealed when we fix our
eyes on Jesus Christ and him crucified.
B. We need the Spirit to reveal God’s mind to us, and he does so by the
light of the cross, as Paul tells us in our text for this morning (1
Corinthians 2:2, 10).
C. We are never to move beyond the cross, as if the cross is just one of
many topics.
1. Rather, allow the cross to speak to all topics; let it illuminate all
A. First, let it illuminate your sin.
1. When the cross reveals the depth of sin, don’t scurry away like a
cockroach, but let that light expose you, that you might confess and be
B. Second, let the cross illuminate God’s personality.
1. Can you see his face in the light of the cross?
2. He’s smiling, for he delights in forgiving you.
C. Third, let the cross illuminate the Law, for Christ is the fulfillment
of the Law, and the Law is so very good!
D. And finally, let the cross shine light on your pain and suffering.
1. It is the cross that will give you the endurance and patience you need
to withstand your trials with faith.
E. Yes, all these topics and more are revealed by the cross.
F. So it is with good reason that Paul says:
1. 1 Corinthians 2:2 “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus
Christ and him crucified”. Amen.
D. Please rise and let us pray:

D LSB 578: 6 Thy Strong Word
God the Father, light-creator,
To Thee laud and honor be.
To Thee, Light of Light begotten,
Praise be sung eternally.
Holy Spirit, light-revealer,
Glory, glory be to Thee.
Mortals, angels, now and ever
Praise the holy Trinity! Amen.
Text: © 1969 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission: LSB Hymn
License no. 110000247
E. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

F. In the Name of the Father…Amen.